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Politico: How Inaction on Immigration Reform Led GOP Toward Impeachment

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At Politico Magazine today, Bill Scher details how Speaker Boehner refused to act on immigration reform — and as a result brought his party to the threshold of impeaching the president (which many suggest would have horrible consequences for the GOP).

In Scher’s article, a too-clever-by-half Boehner tried to thread the needle between keeping his party together, and not repulsing everyone not already part of the GOP base.  But with impeachment calls growing louder, his tactic doesn’t seem to have worked.

Speaker Boehner refused to take action on immigration reform this year, using the excuse that Obama is a “lawless” president who “can’t be trusted” to enforce border security.  Well, as Scher writes, “If you believe the president isn’t following the law, impeachment is the logical next step.”  Boehner tried to forestall talks of impeachment by floating a strategy to sue Obama for supposed executive overreaches.  But that only fed the fire, and Sarah Palin this week became the newest face of the impeachment push.

It’s like we’ve been telling the Republican Party for years: if you don’t pass immigration reform, bad things will happen demographically.  As the GOP confronts impeachment urges that potentially weaken their standing this November, it seems that warning is playing out.

Read more from Bill Scher’s Politico magazine article below:

If you believe the president isn’t following the law, impeachment is the logical next step. However, impeachment is completely illogical if you believe “we get elected to solve problems” and not play political games. Since Boehner knew he would never take such a radical step, he should never have embraced the rationale for that step.

Yet he did, and in doing so, painted himself into a corner.

When he informed Obama on June 24, during an event celebrating the Presidents Cup golf team, that the House would not vote on immigration reform this summer, he knew from the president’s past statements that an executive order on deportations would be forthcoming. With the fire Boehner had stoked within the Republican base, the speaker had few options. Respond with the usual statements, and get slammed for doing nothing and weaken his standing on the Right. Impeach, and risk losing the Senate, and maybe even the House in the improbable scenario that Democrats can ride the backlash to win nearly all of the few remaining competitive districts.

Instead, the ever-creative and wily Boehner announced his planned lawsuit, presumably hoping not only to suck the oxygen out of the impeachment camp, but also to pre-emptively frame Obama’s coming executive order as another power grab and mitigate the political gain Democrats might earn from Latinos—especially in the 19 competitive House districts where Latinos could play a significant role. Boehner was also careful not to include immigration as an example of executive illegality.

But the lawsuit gave impeachment oxygen. No one of consequence was touting impeachment before, just a few House backbenchers, plus harsher words from the South Dakota Republican Party, Glenn Beck and a book from a National Review editor. Granted, Palin may have lost much of her influence in recent years. But she still can drive media coverage, which can affect individual races, as we’ve already seen in Iowa.

Even if few Republican incumbents and candidates overtly embrace her call, impeachment chatter could still alienate moderates and awaken an otherwise sleepy Democratic base (case in point: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a fundraising appeal Wednesday in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s name with the subject line “Sarah Palin”).

Furthermore, both the lawsuit and the impeachment push might help increase Latino turnout and risk an upset loss of the House. Palin’s call is centered on Obama’s immigration policy, even venturing into conspiracy territory by accusing the president of deliberating causing the current influx of Central American children. Perhaps feeling Palin’s pressure, Boehner acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that immigration might be part of the lawsuit, which could anger Latinos and drive them to the polls.

Boehner had another choice in February: deal with immigration reform. If he didn’t want to force the issue ahead of the congressional primaries, he could have simply kept intra-party negotiations going and held off votes without trying to prematurely assign blame. In fact, he still had the option to deal with immigration reform this summer, despite his past comments. But Boehner let the primary defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor rob him of political courage, instead of looking to the primary victory of pro-immigration reform Sen. Lindsey Graham as a source of inspiration.

Boehner was pretty deft in 2013 at preventing the Tea Party members from taking the Republicans over a cliff, without frontally challenging them and causing a party split right before the primary season. But in 2014, by putting party unity above all else, including addressing immigration reform, he may have unleashed a demon he can no longer control.